Senate Democrats

S. J. Res. 14, Expressing the Sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales No Longer Holds the Confidence of Senate and the American People

Summary and Background

On May 24, 2007, Senator Schumer introduced S.J.Res.14, a joint resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people.  The joint resolution has 28 original co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Reid, Assistant Majority Leader Durbin, and Senators Akaka, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Brown, Byrd, Casey, Clinton, Conrad, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Feinstein, Harkin, Inouye, Kennedy, Kerry, Klobuchar, Levin, Menendez, Murray, Nelson (FL), Obama, Sanders, Stabenow, and Webb.  Senator Lautenberg has also joined as a sponsor.

Attorney General Gonzales has been heavily criticized by Senators and Representatives of both parties, as well as members of the legal community and former staff at the Department of Justice, for his role in the firing of United States Attorneys in December 2006 for alleged political reasons.  The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has held five oversight hearings on the matter, and related matters, entitled “Preserving Prosecutorial Independence.”  The House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary has also held several hearings on the matter and related matters.

Other serious concerns about Attorney General Gonzales include his role in 1) the misuse of National Security Letters by the Federal Bureau Investigation; 2) allowing the National Security Agency to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in conducting domestic warrantless wiretapping; 3) politicizing the hiring of career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice; and 4) developing the legal framework for the use of torture and the creation of military commissions. 

A roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S.J.Res.14 has been scheduled for June 11. 

Major Provisions

S.J.Res.14 would express the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people. 

Legislative History

S.J.Res.14 was placed on the Senate legislative calendar on May 25.  A motion to proceed to consideration of the joint resolution was offered on June 6, but the motion was withdrawn that same day.  A motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the resolution was also filed on May 6.  The Senate has scheduled a roll call vote on the cloture motion for June 11. 

As a joint resolution, S.J.Res.14 would also have to be approved by the House of Representatives and presented to the President. 

Statement of Administration Policy

As of this writing, the Administration has not issued a Statement of Administration Policy on S.J.Res.14.  President Bush, however, has repeatedly reiterated his support for Attorney General Gonzales, and has stated, “[Congress] can have their votes of no-confidence but it’s not going to make the determination about who serves in my government.” (AP, 06/11/07)

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